For immediate release | April 4, 2019

Colson Whitehead to Keynote Freedom to Read Foundation’s 50th Anniversary Celebration

Colson Whitehead, the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of The Underground Railroad, will be the keynote speaker for the Freedom to Read Foundation’s 50th anniversary celebration in Washington, D.C. on June 22, 2019. Tickets for this commemorative celebration are now available.

Whitehead has published an impressive body of work, including The Noble Hustle, Zone One, Sag Harbor, The Intuitionist, John Henry Days, Apex Hides the Hurt, and a collection of essays, The Colossus of New York. In addition to winning the 2017 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction, the 2016 National Book Award for The Underground Railroad and a recipient of the 2017 Andrew Carnegie Medal for Excellence in Fiction, Whitehead has won numerous fellowships and prizes for his writing, including a MacArthur Fellowship, a Guggenheim Fellowship, a Whiting Writers Award, the Dos Passos Prize, and a fellowship at the Cullman Center for Scholars and Writers. Whitehead was also a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize for John Henry Days. In July 2019, Whitehead will publish a new title “The Nickel Boys”, based on real events during the Jim Crow era.

“Mr. Whitehead is a champion of freedom, diversity, justice and a master of the English language,” said Freedom to Read Foundation President Charles Brownstein “We are eagerly looking forward to his talk, and celebrating the foundation’s 50 years of supporting efforts to keep books on library shelves, protect reader privacy, and have unconstitutional laws struck down.”

Freedom to Read Foundation’s 50th Anniversary Celebration is sponsored by Penguin Random House LLC; Penguin Random House Publisher Services; Association of College & Research Libraries (ACRL); SAGE Publishing; Gale, a Cengage Company; Association of American Publishers; and the members and friends of the Freedom to Read Foundation, including ALA President Loida Garcia-Febo; Incoming ALA President, Wanda Brown; ALA Past President James Neal, and Patricia Hofman..

The celebration will take place during the American Library Association’s Annual Conference on Saturday, June 22, 2019 at 6 p.m. in the Renaissance Washington D.C.'s Grand Ballroom, 999 9th St NW, Washington, D.C. Tickets are $25 and available for purchase on the FTRF website or through ALA conference registration. The event is open to the public. Appetizers and a cash bar will be available.

The Freedom to Read Foundation is a nonprofit legal and educational organization founded in 1969 to promote and protect the freedom of speech and the freedom of the press; protect the public's right of access to information and materials stored in the nation's libraries; safeguard libraries' right to disseminate all materials contained in their collections; and support libraries and librarians in their defense of First Amendment rights by supplying them with legal counsel or the means to secure it.

In addition to its litigation and legal advocacy in defense of First Amendment freedoms, the foundation supports projects and programs to educate librarians and the public about the importance of defending the right to read and speak freely by providing grants to libraries, schools, and community institutions across the country. FTRF also supports and funds initiatives and scholarship programs to improve intellectual freedom education for LIS professionals and students.

For additional information regarding the 50th Anniversary Celebration, please visit or contact Yumeka Brown at


Yumeka Brown

Program Officer

American Library Association

Freedom to Read Foundation